Senators condemn ‘sprawl’ of consulting firms in administration

“The health crisis has highlighted the interference of consultants in the conduct of public policy. In fact, it was just the tip of the iceberg.” : Senators Arnaud Bazin (Republicans) and Elian Assassi (Communist) signed the accusation, publishing on Thursday, March 17, their report on the influence of consulting firms on public policy. After four months of investigation, they complete the deployment “spread” these private companies in the administration.

2.4 billion euros since 2018

It’s the use of consulting firms “not expected” according to Arnaud Bazin, decision makers and therefore not subject to democratic debate. However, the bill is salty, inflated by the health crisis. Last year, the state signed a check for one billion euros to these consulting companies, with 90% of the services destined for ministries.

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However, senators note that this is just “minimum budget”. Since at least 2018, consulting firms have cost the state 2.4 billion euros. “Crazy Dough”the senators joke. In January, the government announced that it intended to cut the bill by 15% next year.

“Opacity”

“The first observation of this massive intervention of consultants in public policy is the lack of transparency, highlights speaker Elian Assassi. Even the state does not have a global vision. »

An example is McKinsey, one of the largest consulting firms in the world, which was in great demand by the Ministry of Health during the health crisis. “McKinsey does not use its own logos when compiling documents, but the logos of the administration, continues the senator. These are invisible services. »

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The use of framework agreements, a kind of grouped and expected procurement of services from which the state will draw information according to its needs, contributes to this lack of visibility. In addition, for convenience, this leads to more regular contact with consulting firms. Practice has also been elevated to the rank “reflex”, according to the senators.

Does the state have a choice?

Some services also leave you bewildered. Between December 2020 and February 2021, McKinsey is responsible for deploying a consultant to ensure “coordination between the state and one of its agencies, the French Public Health”… Service cost? 170,000 euros. Senators list other services duly billed that have spawned mice.

But does the state have a choice? In other words, do its officials have all the necessary skills? Heard by the senators in February, Health Minister Olivier Véran made this point the basis of his argument: “The scale of the health crisis has necessitated the mobilization of human and expert reinforcements in record time. »

“System”

“Of course, there was surprise at the beginning of the crisis.Judge Arnaud Bazin. But this appeal to consulting firms lasted two years. The state did not seek to internalize tasks over time and improve the skills of its civil servants. He got used to this system. »

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“There is no doubt about the contribution that these consulting firms can make in a number of areas.Frame Fyodor Arno Bazin. They have a fast-acting strike force, advanced experience in some areas such as logistics – moreover, it is not normal that the state does not have skills in this area. We want there to be a method of using these firms. »

Doctrine Development

To do this, the report makes nineteen recommendations that should be formulated in the draft law. “after a few months”. In particular, there is an annual publicity obligation for the service providers consulted, as well as for the details of their services, with a systematic evaluation of the latter. The government is called upon, for its part, “to map” his skills, his history of not using service providers while his staff is available… and trained.

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McKinsey firm accused of tax evasion

The consulting firm McKinsey, widely sought after by the state, especially in the context of the health crisis when it participated in the development of the state vaccination strategy, was in disarray after a senatorial panel heard from one of its leaders, Karim Tajeddin. investigations in January. These hearings are held under oath: any lie is punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. “I say it very clearly: we pay corporation tax in France”Karim Tajeddin said.

This statement is contradicted by the report of the Senate, received by the Ministry of Finance. With the help of the tax optimization mechanism, the company repatriates the profits received in France to the United States, more precisely to Delaware, a state known for its tax flexibility. “McKinsey hasn’t paid corporation tax in France for at least a decade”, confirms Arnaud Bazin, chairman of the commission of inquiry. Senators Condemn “cartoon example of tax optimization”.

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